Florida state

Game Preview: FSU at Boston College

Florida State is traveling on an off day to Chestnut Hill to face the Boston College Eagles, and it’s going to be a very tired team. Three players played over 30 minutes against Duke on Saturday night, but fortunately Boston College is playing at a very slow pace; it’s going to be a very different game.

Boston College is currently on a 5-game losing streak, with only one of those five losses being in the single digits (an overtime loss at Notre Dame). It’s likely going to be a hungry, desperate team that’s tired of losing, and they’ll have a good shot at it here against Florida State.

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FSU owns the all-time streak 13-7, though they’re only 3-6 in BC games, having not won since January 2016. BC usually plays the tough ‘Noles up there for some reason, although they do have a new head coach for the first time since 2014.

This game will take place at 7 p.m. on the ACC Network, live from the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA.

Boston College Eagle (9-16, 4-11) Breakdown

BC is in its first season under head coach Earl Grant, who came from Charleston to try for success at Chestnut Hill. He didn’t come that far. Here’s who they beat in their 9 games: Dartmouth, Holy Cross, Fairfield, Columbia, South Florida, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Pittsburgh. Notre Dame and Virginia Tech are the only teas above .500, and VT is fraudulent, so I don’t know how much that really matters. Things aren’t always easy when transitioning to a new coach, especially one who slows the pace like Coach Grant does.

They only play around 66 possessions per game and have only played 6 games with 70 or more possessions. It is a team that is very determined in its slowness. Looking at their shooting percentages, you wouldn’t know why. Going slow only works if you make every possession count. Going into this play they are shooting 29.5% from 3s, 46.7% from 2s and 70.5% from their FTs. They’ve shot above 33.3% from 3 just 8 times all season, and are 2-12 in games where they shoot below 33.3% from deep. They’re just not a good shooting team, so playing below-average 3-point defense at Florida State can benefit them.

They do a solid job of taking care of the ball and can decently crush offensive glass as well, which is something FSU has really struggled with recently. The Noles were hit hard by injuries in the front court, and their rebound suffered.

Defensively, they’re one of the worst to drop 3s, allowing teams to shoot 37.1% from range this season and have dropped 40% or more shots in 11 different games. They are slightly above average for getting steals, and in a game where both teams are likely to be fatigued, there may be more turnovers than expected.

The Langfords, DeMarr and Makai, are the only two players to average double-digit scoring for the Eagles. Makai takes more 3s and DeMarr is a bit better rebounder, but their plays are very similar. Can handle the ball, facilitate when needed and are solid rebounders for their size. Makai has a bit higher usage rate, but both are guys to be respected.

Jaeden Zackery is the only player on the team who gets consistent minutes that make more than 32% of his 3s, and he strokes them at 42.9%. He’s the only guy Florida State MUST shut down when he has the ball, and his ability to be a secondary enabler behind the Langfords is something to watch.

Their post players of James Karnik and Quinten Post are guys who I think need more ball. Post is shooting 50.4% on 2s and is a phenomenal rebounder, he is going to be a tough game for this FSU team. Karnik is a great all-purpose solid that can even expand to 3 if needed.

Brevin Galloway has followed Coach Grant from Charleston to bring some insight into the season, but he’s had major efficiency issues this season, shooting just 27.9% from the floor and 23% from 3. Most of his shots actually come from 3s (73.9% of his shots, to be exact), but he’s only had five games this season with more than two 2s. He was a career-high 36% shooter, from age 3, but he just didn’t adapt to ACC play.

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TJ Bickerstaff has missed the last two games with a calf injury, but is being considered day to day. If he plays, he leads the team in defensive win shares and is the top rebounder on a team that includes Quinten Post. FSU is going to have to put bodies on him every time a shot is fired.

Florida State Seminoles breakdown (14-12, 7-9)

There’s usually not much to take away from an 18-point loss, but one thing that was very evident was Jalen Warley and his game against Duke. 15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and just two turnovers in 35 minutes of play. Even in the final moments of the game, he was playing hard on defense and doing his best to initiate the offense. There were a few passes he could have made and I thought that would have been the best play, but I’m just nitpicking. I’m happier that he hits two 3s in catch-and-shoot in rhythm and finishes games like these.

It’s a really confident take, and he played confident the whole game, the most confident he’s played all season. If he continues to play like that, it’s going to be a big step forward for the rest of this season and for next season.

Cam’Ron Fletcher continues to improve with every game, and hopefully once the guys are healthier he will keep playing. His energy, especially on offense and on the glass, is something this team desperately needs. He played 33 minutes against Duke, thanks in part to John Butler dealing with foul issues, but he’s well worth continuing to play more minutes.

Matthew Cleveland did well around the rim the other night, a welcome sight after some of his games recently. His midrange… and his free throws… still need work, but he just needs to continue to be confident. He’s a guy who gets a little confused after a bad patch. Eventually he will learn to move on to the next move, and the sooner the better.

I expect it to be under 67 total possessions. FSU has played 8 such games this year, and they are 4-4 in those. It’s not their forte, although they showed they could do it effectively against Miami, but it also cost them against Georgia Tech and Clemson. We’ll see how it goes in this one.

injury report

Caleb Mills is day to day with an ankle injury and will be a game time decision. I’ve been told his MRI is clean, just choosing to play it safe at the moment.

RayQuan Evans will be a game-time decision with a knee injury.

Anthony Polite doubts playing with a wrist injury.

Naheem McLeod has a hand injury and Malik Osborne has an ankle injury.

For BC, DeMarr Langford did not play the second half against Syracuse after suffering a toe injury. We don’t know if he will play in this one.

TJ Bickerstaff, who started 23 games, missed the last two with a calf injury. He is considered day to day and could play in this one.

Projected starters

Boston College

G: Jaeden Zackery

G: Brevin Galloway

G: Makai Ashton-Langford

F: James Karnik

C: Quinten post

state of florida

G: Jalen Warley

G: Matthew Cleveland

G: Wyatt Wilkes

F: John Butler

C: Tanor Ngom

The keys to the game

turnover battle

These two teams are pretty similar defensively: they don’t guard 3s well, and they force a ton of steals and turnovers (FSU is better at that, to be fair). Given that both teams are coming off an off day, there may be more sloppy play than normal. FSU can’t afford to give Boston College extra opportunities, and that includes on the offensive glass, where BC is also good.

Make life difficult inside

Boston College is shooting just 46.7 percent on 2 this season, and they seem to be going as their short shots fall. In games where they are 50% or better from 2, they are 6-4. In games where they’re below 50%, they’re 3-12, and those three wins have been against South Florida, Columbia and Fairfield. If you can keep Quinten Post from getting easy looks downstairs, bother James Karnik, and make life difficult for the Langfords while they’re driving, you should be fine.

Gas in the tank

Both of those teams played on Saturday, both teams were eliminated, and both teams had three guys playing 30 minutes or more, with one from each side playing at least 38 minutes. BC also had to play at a much faster pace than they are used to. She usually only plays around 66 possessions per game, but played 71 against Cuse on Saturday. Whichever team can muster enough energy to continue to the end of the game will win.

game prediction

Florida State is a 1-point favorite with an over/under of 136.5.

It’s going to be a very slow game, probably with a lot of turnovers. FSU will always operate on a limited depth, so they will have to find ways to stay fresh. Despite what works against them, they should still be the better team by a decent margin. Whether they realize their potential or not is another story. I’ll always take the ‘Noles in this one.

FSU 62-60